Ripken will miss at least 3 to 4 games

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

3B has deep bone bruise

second DL stay possible

DeShields' return delayed

July 17, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Further tests performed yesterday on Cal Ripken's right wrist show a deep bone bruise that a club official said should cause the Orioles third baseman to miss the next three or four games. The possibility still exists that Ripken could make another stop on the disabled list if his condition doesn't improve.

As a means of protection for the club during Ripken's absence, third baseman Ryan Minor was called up from Triple-A Rochester last night among the series of moves that also resulted in pitcher Rocky Coppinger being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers and reliever Gabe Molina being optioned to the Red Wings -- leaving the Orioles with 11 pitchers for the first time this season -- and reliever Ricky Bones being activated from the disabled list.

Ripken was hit on the side of his wrist by a pitch from Montreal's Mike Thurman in the second inning of Thursday night's game. He later scored on a single by Brady Anderson, but was removed in the third after experiencing some discomfort while trying to shake hands in the dugout and handling a bat in the indoor cage.

"I didn't have much feeling when it hit me, which happens quite frequently from the trauma of getting hit," he said. "I ran around the bases and started to get some feeling back in my hand.

"I wanted to know what extent I could play, so I went into the cage and picked up a ball and threw it, and I was surprised it felt pretty good. I suspected that throwing would be the hardest part, grabbing hold of the ball, but then when I picked up the bat and started to swing, I just couldn't go."

Ripken then informed manager Ray Miller that he couldn't play, and X-rays taken at the ballpark were inconclusive. Ripken's hand was examined by a specialist yesterday and tests were performed at Good Samaritan Hospital. He arrived at the clubhouse wearing a splint to immobilize the wrist, removing it only to receive ice treatments. Jeff Reboulet started in his place last night.

"I'm going to disappoint you [reporters] because at this point it's still pretty vague," said Ripken, who's batting .333 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs since coming off the DL on May 13.

"The tests weren't really conclusive so at best you could say right now that it's a deep contusion and time will tell if it's anything else. I was told to keep it immobilized for a day or two and see what kind of improvement I get, if any."

Ripken met with team orthopedic doctor Michael Jacobs last night. He will be re-evaluated again and have another set of tests done "as soon as possible."

There didn't appear to be much swelling on the wrist, "but it hit me in the right spot. There are a lot of little bones in that area," he said.

"It doesn't feel good. It didn't feel good when it happened and it doesn't feel good today, but it could improve very rapidly. Hopefully, it will."

Ripken said he'll resist the temptation to pick up a bat for a few days.

"I'm going to go with the experts and try to listen to the doctors," he said. "I don't like to be patient all the time in that regard, but it seems like the smart thing to do."

Miller continues to point to Ripken's resiliency as cause for optimism.

"Cal's just like his dad. I've seen his dad get hit with a line drive in the nose and eye in batting practice, and two days later there's no bruise. It's phenomenal. Great genes or whatever," Miller said.

"If it's a bone bruise, Cal will be ready in a few days, and apparently that's all they can find. They've checked everything and they can't find anything else. I hope that's all it is. He's swinging the bat as good as I've seen him swing it.

"He's one of those guys, though, that when he tells you something hurts, you know it hurts."

Bones threw in the bullpen for about 10 minutes on Thursday, using all of his pitches and pronounced himself fit after being sidelined with a tired arm.

"I feel fine. I feel perfect. I'm ready to go," he said.

"I've had two bullpens and I play catch almost every day. It's not like I shut it down completely and need to get in shape. I'm ready."

Setback for DeShields

Second baseman Delino DeShields will have his injury rehab assignment transferred to Single-A Frederick today, and club officials are less expectant of his quick return to the majors.

DeShields, who is recovering from a strained right hamstring, went 1-for-4 and played nine innings for lower Single-A Delmarva in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader. He's being transferred to Frederick because the Shorebirds have left town.

Once thought to be the probable replacement for Ripken if the Iron Man had to go on the DL, DeShields apparently will need more time in the minors before he's ready to return.

Thinking positively

The Orioles are 14 1/2 games behind first-place New York in the AL East, but the club will keep closer tabs on second-place Boston, which leads the wild-card chase. The Red Sox are 11 games ahead of the Orioles in the loss column.

"You have to stay positive, obviously," said shortstop Mike Bordick. "I think we've put ourselves in enough good positions in the first half to win ballgames.

"If we can continue to do that, and hopefully the ball bounces our way a few more times, I think we're going to be successful.

"Obviously, some things have to happen in front of us, but as long as we take care of our own business and win games, then we can look up in September and hopefully have a legitimate shot."

Moment to remember

Miller said he had tears in his eyes as he watched past and present All-Stars surrounding Ted Williams while the baseball legend prepared to throw out the first pitch in Tuesday's All-Star Game at Fenway Park.

Just imagine how Ripken, one of the closest players to Williams, felt.

"Everybody who plays has to consider themselves a fan," Ripken said. "To see all those guys from different eras out there, and have it culminate with Ted Williams coming out, I just thought it was really cool."

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